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Louis Armstrong & Friends

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Biography

Louis Armstrong (1901-1971) was a trumpet player, singer, bandleader, and is widely regarded as one of the most influential artists in the history of jazz.

Armstrong was born and raised in New Orleans, a culturally diverse town with a unique musical mix of creole, ragtime, marching bands and blues. Although from an early age he was able to play music professionally, he never traveled far from New Orleans until 1922, when he went to Chicago to join his mentor, King Oliver. Oliver’s band played primitive jazz, a hotter style of ragtime, with looser rhythm and more improvisation, and Armstrong’s role was mostly backup. Slow to promote himself, he was eventually persuaded by his wife to leave Oliver, and In 1924 he went to New York to join the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra. At the time, there were a few other artists using the rhythmic innovations of the New Orleans style, but none did it with the energy and brilliance of Armstrong, and he quickly became a sensation among New York musicians. Back in Chicago in 1925, he made his first recordings with his own group, Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five, and these became not only popular hits but also models for the first generation of jazz musicians, trumpeter or otherwise.

Other hits followed through the twenties and thirties, as well as troubles: crooked managers, lip injuries, mob entanglements, failed big-band ventures. As jazz styles changed though, musical purists never lost any respect for him —although they were sometimes irritated by his hammy onstage persona.

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